A former Los Angeles police officer pleaded no contest Thursday to the on-duty assault of a trespassing suspect in Boyle Heights in 2020.
Frank Hernandez, now 51, was immediately sentenced to one year of anger management classes, 80 hours of community service and two years probation following his plea to a felony count of assault under color of authority, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Hernandez illegally punched the unarmed man more than a dozen times in the head, neck, and body after the officer and his partner responded to a call of a trespasser in a vacant lot on April 27, 2020, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
During the investigation, a fight broke out between the suspect and one officer, according to a statement released in May 2020 by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The officer sustained a minor hand injury and the suspect had cuts to his head and face, but refused medical attention, according to the police statement.
A supervisor was called to the scene and a witness who saw a portion of the fight gave the supervisor a copy of a cell phone video, the statement said.
“Upon review of the content of the cell phone video and the involved officer’s body worn video, the supervisor notified his commanding officer and investigators of the Internal Affairs Group responded to conduct a personnel complaint investigation,” police said.
The suspect was released from custody pending further investigation, the department said.
A formal investigation began and Hernandez was assigned to home duty pending the results of the investigation, police said.
Hernandez is no longer with the department, which reported that he “separated” from the agency in 2021.
The case against Hernandez was filed in June 2020 under the administration of then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey amid heightened scrutiny of the actions of police officers in the wake of George Floyd’s death while he was being taken into custody by police in Minneapolis.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, issued a statement in 2020 saying, “While we have a fiduciary responsibility to provide our members with assistance through the internal affairs administrative process, what we saw on that video was unacceptable and is not what we are trained to do.”
In a statement released shortly after Hernandez’s plea and sentencing, District Attorney George Gascón said, “Wearing a badge does not give an officer the right to use unreasonable and excessive force. When this happens, it erodes trust in the community and can impact our collective safety.